“I went from the driver’s seat of my life to the trunk”

by Carolyn Thomas  ♥  @HeartSisters

On the day that her doctor confirmed her diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Jamia Crockett recalls feeling “very removed” from her patient experience. Her response, in fact, is one  that many patients living with any form of chronic, debilitating and progressive illness will find familiar – no matter what that ultimate diagnosis may be.

When the doctor told Jamia: “You’ve got MS”, she felt so removed that her first reaction to hearing these two letters was: “No, I don’t have an MS, I have an MHA!” (referring to her graduate degree in health administration). 

Continue reading ““I went from the driver’s seat of my life to the trunk””

Does surviving a heart attack make you a better person?

by Carolyn Thomas  ♥  @HeartSisters

Here’s what happens when a PR person (like me, for instance) survives a heart attack, but is no longer well enough to return to work. During extended medical leave, that PR person continues to do just what she knows how to do: she writes, she does public talks, she looks stuff up.  She  launches a blog and gets invited to attend cardiology conferences to speak or to write about the proceedings for her blog readers.

And all around her, people then respond by gushing things like:

“You have taken this catastrophically bad thing and turned it into a wonderfully good thing!”

The late Dr. Jessie Gruman would have likely recognized this not-so-subtle expectation that good patients will somehow take the lemons that life curveballs at them and make deliciously noble lemonade.  Continue reading “Does surviving a heart attack make you a better person?”

“After The Diagnosis”: two books, same title, one hope

by Carolyn Thomas

A never-married Catholic priest offers marriage counselling to couples. A childless shrink spouts advice on how to raise toddlers. Oprah Winfrey talks about money problems. “You have no clue!” – I want to scream at them. As a heart attack survivor, I now tend to gravitate towards those who are able to practice what they preach based on actual personal experience – not what they have learned at arm’s length. Clinical psychologist Dr. Elvira Aletta, for example, has been diagnosed with not one but two chronic diseases. Dr. Stephen Parker is a cardiac psychologist who is also a heart attack survivor.

And recently, I’ve come across two authors of books on coping with chronic illness that, ironically, share the same main title, After The Diagnosis:

  • Kidney specialist and Harvard prof Dr. Julian Seifter was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was a young medical intern.
  • Dr. JoAnn Le Maistre received her PhD in clinical psychology, delivered a baby daughter, and learned she had multiple sclerosis  – all within a few months.

What these authors have to share with heart attack survivors and others diagnosed with a chronic illness is quite profound. Here’s why: Continue reading ““After The Diagnosis”: two books, same title, one hope”